Putin agrees to lead party

(iht) - Surprising no one, President Vladimir Putin accepted an offer Tuesday to lead the dominant political party in Russia once he leaves office next month and takes the post of prime minister, potentially setting the stage for years of power-sharing with President-elect Dimitri Medvedev, his hand-picked successor to the Kremlin.

At a party congress that played like a disconcerting mélange of U.S. national political convention, Soviet-era Communist Party Congress and corporate pep rally, Putin agreed to be the chairman of United Russia, a party that has been regarded as an arm of the Kremlin since it was created in 2001.

Until Medvedev takes office May 7, Putin said it would be inappropriate for him to be officially affiliated with a particular party. Once he is prime minister, he said, he sees no such problem, calling a dual party and government role "a perfectly civilized, natural and traditional practice for democratic states."

Before the hundreds of delegates and guests who filled Gostiny Dvor, a convention complex just steps from Red Square and the Kremlin, Putin added: "Harmonious work between the cabinet and the parliamentary majority offers an opportunity to meet successfully the challenges of economic development, improve the quality of health care and education, increase the incomes of our citizens and strengthen the defense capability of our nation.

"Therefore, I gladly accept the offer of the members of the party and its leadership. Thank you very much. I am ready to take on the additional responsibility and lead United Russia."

Putin's words to the crowd, which he addressed twice, were greeted with multiple standing ovations - and the vote to make him party leader was proclaimed unanimous. Yet his appearance bore significantly less of the Soviet stamp that accompanied the previous party congress, last October, when a textile worker and a paralympic athlete appeared on stage and appealed to Putin to stay on as Russia's leader.

Also distinctly un-Soviet was the length of this congress, which convened for only about two hours over the past two days.

At the October congress, Putin said he would consider the post of prime minister if the country elected a president he could work with. On Tuesday, he noted that everything had gone according to plan.

"Dimitri Medvedev, the very man that I recommended to the country and the electorate, has been elected president of Russia," he said. "I have therefore accepted his proposal, one that was supported by United Russia and other parties, to head the government of the Russian Federation in accordance with the time frame stipulated in the Constitution."

Since the parliamentary elections last December, United Russia has controlled 315 of the 450 seats in the Duma, the lower house of Parliament. Critics say the lack of a viable opposition and the party's monolithic structure make it a modern-day version of the Soviet Communist Party. (The surviving Communist Party of the Russian Federation and other small parties have, in these critics' eyes, been harassed into oblivion.)

Boris Gryzlov, the leader of United Russia, who proposed Putin for the post, found suitably laudatory words.

"We are a strong party," he said. "And we will grow even stronger when the leader of our electoral list, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, becomes chairman of the Russian government. The 2007 elections to the State Duma have confirmed his status as national leader, becoming in essence a referendum in support of the course that is being carried out."

Putin headed the party's ticket for the December elections, even though he was not then - and is not now - a member of United Russia.

Putin did not run for a third consecutive term as president, which would have violated the Constitution. But analysts have speculated that he and Medvedev could alternate between the posts of president and prime minister without ever formally defying the law.

In Russian society, that prospect has revived an almost forgotten genre, the political anecdote, which flourished around kitchen tables in Soviet times.

"It's 2036, and Putin and Medvedev are sitting in the Kremlin drinking," goes one anecdote making the rounds. "Putin asks Medvedev: 'Dim, which of us is president today?' Medvedev answers: 'Damn, I don't remember.' So they go to the corridor to check the sign on the door. Medvedev: 'Vov, you're president today.' Putin: 'Then, Dim, you go buy the beer.' "

Medvedev also addressed the congress Tuesday, but to a much more muted response.

Medvedev, who has worked with Putin for almost 20 years, said that just as Putin did not join United Russia as president, he, too, should remain above the party fray for now.

Alexander Rahr, program director for Russia and Eurasia at the German Council on Foreign Relations, said this might signal an effort to put some distance between himself and Putin.

By refusing party discipline, Rahr noted, Medvedev avoided being caught in "some new kind of dependencies."

"If he had joined the party, he would have received a new boss," Rahr said. "That means the head of the party: Putin." Others, including party and government officials, said Putin's new post was a sign of growing normality and stability in Russia.

"Today is a new stage in the development of the political system of Russia, the model that is recognized in the world, and has many years of experience and history, where the winning party and its leader form the government," said Valentina Matviyenko, the governor of St. Petersburg. "I think that this is a logical, clear, civilized European decision."

Mine explosion kills one in Azerbaijan’s Sugovushan
Mine explosion kills one in Azerbaijan’s Sugovushan
Myanmar police issue arrest warrants for celebrities for endorsing strike movement
Myanmar police issue arrest warrants for celebrities for endorsing strike movement
Nar supported international online chess series ‘Karabakh is Azerbaijan’
Nar supported international online chess series ‘Karabakh is Azerbaijan’
Loading Bars
Latest
Participation of Azerbaijani SMEs in public procurement to be encouraged
U.S. report on Khashoggi death expected to single out Saudi crown prince
Egypt plans to order 10 mln Sputnik V doses from Russia
Kazakhstan, Poland trade decreases amid COVID-19
Germany grants special approval for first COVID-19 self-test kits
Ford CEO calls on U.S. government to support EV batteries, charging
Swiss logistics giant to partner with Chinese company in vaccine storage and distribution
Japan's cabinet green-lights bill to ratify RCEP trade deal
Kazakhstan increases imports of Sweden-made goods
Kazakh Karachaganak Petroleum Operating paying particular focus to "green" technologies
Kazakhstan's Kcell mobile telecom services provider to de-list its GDRs
Azerbaijan - leader among neighboring countries for index of sustainable development goals
Israel's hi-tech services exports up 19 pct in 2020
Conditions for Int’l cooperation changing - Rouhani
Kazakh airlines eye boosting jet fuel imports
Uzbekistan notes decrease in mining production
COVID-19 greatly affects cargo transportation by vehicles in Azerbaijan's transportation sector
Head of Georgian Governmental Administration quits
Turkey registers more than 9 500 new coronavirus cases
Johnson & Johnson's one-dose vaccine closes in on U.S. approval
Pashinyan shows anti-Russia stance, denigrates 'Iskander' missile fired on Azerbaijan
Azerbaijani FM, European commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement discuss situation in region
Azerbaijani FM meets Ukrainian deputy FM (PHOTO)
Visitors show great interest in Azerbaijani products at Gulfood 2021 exhibition (PHOTO)
Azerbaijan discloses amount of investments in economy of Turkic-speaking states
Assistant to Azerbaijani president meets with Ukrainian deputy minister for foreign affairs (PHOTO)
Japan eyes to support development of Georgian agrarian potential
Airlines expanding their activities in Georgia
Georgia reports three cases of UK coronavirus strain
Azerbaijan talks state-supported domestic SME market researches for 2020
Iran's Khatam Al-Anbia Headquarters to begin second phase of Chabahar port development project
Georgia to receive AstraZeneca Vaccine from South Korea and India
Turkmengas opens tender for purchase of technological equipment
Port of Baku records growth in annual turnover despite pandemic
Uzbekneftegaz to accelerate sale of gas stations serving farms
Azerbaijan sees growth of long-term loans to legal entities in real estate sector
Kazakhstan's Parliament approves amendments to bill on uranium mining
Iran's Shahid Tondgooyan Petrochemical Company fulfills its production plan
Georgian Hualing FIZ to begin serial production of furniture
Ukraine International Airlines receives permission to operate flights to Baku
New free economic zone established in Uzbekistan’s Karakalpakstan
Precious metal prices down in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijani industrial sector's lending notably grows
Turkmenistan's Project CA Desert Initiative opens tender for purchase of motorcycles
Inspectorate International Ltd. wins tender launched by Azerbaijani mining company
Turkish, Azerbaijani, and Turkmen FMs adopt joint statement following trilateral meeting (PHOTO)
Programs of Azerbaijani Communications Ministry to raise local startups to world standards
Uzbekistan to sale jewelry via e-commerce
Azerbaijan's Jan. 2021 import of goods increases
Azerbaijan sees multifold growth in bank mortgage lending
Georgia eases some COVID-19 restrictions
Marketed gas production resources set to change by 2050
Azerbaijan discloses volume of goods exported in Jan. 2021
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for February 24
JCPOA signatories require to take big steps towards commitments - Iranian MP
Iran to jointly produce COVID-19 vaccine with Russia by March
Azerbaijan talks use of 'smart' services in liberated lands
Most of lending in communications and transport sector accounts for foreign currency in Azerbaijan
Kazakhstan's banking sector faces pressure from global economic slowdown
Iran declares volume of exports-imports via Shahid Bahonar port revealed
Denmark to ease some COVID-19 restrictions from March 1
Georgia simplifies entry rules for citizens of Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus and Ukraine
Kazakhstan Railways opens tender to rent lifting equipment
Iran to export five pharmaceutical products
Kazakhstan's Karachaganak Gas Debottlenecking Project progresses despite COVID-19
Turkmenistan prepares to harvest licorice root
Karachaganak Petroleum Operating reports historical maximum liquid production
Iran to begin its human trial phase of Razi Cov-Pars vaccine
Central Bank of Iran allocates funds to buy Indian COVID-19 vaccine
German economy to shrink some 1.5% in early 2021
Iranian social media influencers to pay tax
Azerbaijan reports 145 more COVID-19 recoveries
South Korea grounds all local airlines' Boeing 777s with PW4000 engines
Azerbaijan's Innovation Agency becomes first full-fledged member of IASP in region
Huawei's solutions to help communication operators to simplify 5G network deployment
Azerbaijan reveals Jan. 2021 crude oil exports to Croatia
War crimes of chief of Armenia's General Staff - new facts revealed
Azerbaijan releases footage on airstrikes of Su-25 attack on Armenian Armed Forces during Karabakh war (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Production of machinery and equipment up in Azerbaijan
India, Bangladesh to heighten diplomatic engagements in run-up to PM Modi’s visit to Dhaka
Azerbaijan to become Eurasia’s third largest gas producer – GECF
Plan for restoration of small mines in Iran overfulfilled
Kazakh power networks maintenance company to buy containers via tender
Deutsche Bank upgrades U.S. GDP forecast on stimulus push
Number of real estate transactions in Tbilisi down
Turkmenistan’s Union of Industrialists, French MEDEF sign MoU
Koo targets 100 million users this year with 'micro-blog of India' tag
Indian Air Force chief reaches Dhaka on 4-day visit
India signs free trade agreement with Mauritius, delivers additional 100,000 COVID-19 vaccines
Demand for notes of Central Bank of Azerbaijan exceeds supply
Indian defence ministry clears military purchases worth Rs 2,920 crore, rifles from US among them
Harmful microorganisms found in Russian chicken products imported to Azerbaijan
Turkmenistan working on cybersecurity upgrades at Center of Digital Systems
Azerbaijani currency rates for Feb.24
EU Special Representative Toivo Klaar to visit Georgia and Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan increases gas supplies to Turkey by nearly 19%
Azerbaijan shows footage from Aghdam village of Khojavend district (PHOTO/VIDEO)
President of Turkey to visit Turkmenistan
Foreign investments made in Iran's agricultural sector
Uzbek telecom enterprise to buy metal structures for communication towers via tender
All news